If you don’t go into research with a strategy, it can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Even worse, if you don’t have a solid research question or goal, it can feel like sifting through a haystack without even knowing you’re looking for a needle. However, if you meet with a librarian, they’ll be the metaphorical metal detector, helping guide you toward your solution. Even if they can’t dig out the needle for you, they can help you identify what you are looking for and how to go about finding it, and they will send you in the right direction.
This semester, I am writing my senior thesis for politics. My senior seminar focuses on labor. Ever since I took a class on economic inequality in the US, I have been fascinated and troubled by the topic. I knew that I wanted to write about some topic that would relate to economic inequality and insecurity or worker wellbeing. For a while, I was not sure where I wanted to go from there. Thankfully, I realized pretty early on that I needed to go talk to a librarian to flesh out my topic.
My first meeting was with Rosalind Tedford, the WFU librarian who specializes in political science research (among other topics). Ms. Tedford talked through my interests with me and helped me narrow down my focus to a question that could be answered and elaborated upon in my thesis. We decided that it would be really interesting to compare how different companies talk about their employees’ wellbeing versus how employees view their wellbeing versus the actual policies/outcomes.
I am really grateful to have had this meeting with Ms. Tedford because she gave me a direction when I felt like I had none. Once she helped me figure out what to research more generally, she then directed me to meet with the business school librarians who helped me pick data points, and I will talk about their help in another post.
Overall, if you are writing any kind of research paper, I highly suggest utilizing our librarians as a resource. They are so often overlooked, but their value is immeasurable. They will help you at any and every stage of your research process, whether you need help picking a topic, searching for sources, working on citations, or finding your “so what” for your research paper.